The South African Banking Risk Information Centre Warns to Carry Cash Safely

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) on behalf of the banking industry continues to express concern at the number of bank clients that fall victim to cash robberies daily. For the period January to September 2016, a decrease of 12 % was recorded when compared with the same period in 2015. Notwithstanding this decrease, the cash loss suffered for the 2016 period thus far has increased by 5%.

Kalyani Pillay, SABRIC CEO says that “Unfortunately, the victim of these robberies, which is better known as “Bank Associated robbery” or “Bank Followings”, is the bank client.” This crime is not only perpetrated in all the major cities but has also manifested itself in the rural towns of South Africa. The provinces with the highest incident rate are Gauteng followed by Kwazulu Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Free State and the Northern Cape.”

Perpetrators operate in groups and even travel between provinces and cities to commit these heinous deeds. Individuals referred to as “Spotters” enter the bank purporting to be clients and even queue to give the impression that they are bank clients. The sole purpose of this activity is to identify a victim who has made a cash withdrawal. Spotters can be anyone young or old, male or female. One of the ways in which these crimes are committed is that the description of the victim is communicated by the spotter to their accomplices who will be waiting outside the bank. The victim is usually followed to a suitable place where he/she will be robbed of the cash in their possession.

These criminals are now also targeting business owners who visit the bank to either deposit or withdraw large amounts of cash.

Since 2015 and 2016 year to date SABRIC has recorded 10 tragic murders and 35 injuries of victims which resulted from such robberies.

In 2016, 94% of the incidents reported either occurred when the client was en route to the bank to deposit or after conducting a withdrawal. Although 31% of the incidents is attributed to robbery before deposit, 63% occur after a withdrawal and the remainder related to incidents at ATM’s and where clients were scammed by criminals after a cash withdrawal.

Kalyani Pillay says that “Collaborative efforts between the South African Police Service and the Banking Industry, as well as bank clients beginning to heed some of the safe banking advice, has contributed to the continued decrease in incidents.”

SABRIC has recorded 87 and 27 associated robbery related arrests for the period 2015 and 2016, respectively. During this period 4 convictions were recorded with sentences varying between 3 and 15 years imprisonment.

“Despite these collaborative efforts, bank customers, small to medium business owners and stokvel groupings are urged to consider changing their banking practices by utilising alternative banking methods like internet banking and ATM transfers as opposed to carrying large amounts of cash”, says Pillay.

As we are nearing the festive season, the public are cautioned to be even more aware of carrying large amounts of cash since criminals will also view this time as a bonus period with greater opportunities for them.

By following the tips below bank clients will reduce the risk of becoming a victim of these robberies:

  • Carry as little cash as possible
  • Consider the convenience of paying your accounts electronically (consult your bank to find out about other available options)
  • Consider making use of cell phone banking or internet transfers or ATMs to do your banking
  • Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash
  • If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company.
  • Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers’ in full view of the public, rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank.
  • Consider arranging for electronic transfers of wages to contract or casual labourers’ personal bank accounts.
  • A stokvel savings club or burial society can arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club’s account instead of collecting cash contributions.
  • Arrange for the club’s pay-out to be electronically transferred into each club member’s personal account or accounts of their choice.